And Thus It Begins

Today is the day of days. This afternoon Bethany and I are starting our summer adventure to France. We are going to be gone form the 9th till the 24th. We are more than excited to say the least. Our plan includes visiting Paris, Honfleur, D-day beaches, Mont St. Michel, Amboise, St. Émilion, and Agen. The first half is a road trip to all the above places and during the second half we will be in Agen with my exchange family. We hope to keep you up to date while we are on the road.

Here is a map of where we are going.

A lot of people hate to travel. Well maybe I should say that I hate to see most people travel. Mostly because they look like they aren’t enjoying it. I think that the majority of people hate traveling because they don’t know how to travel correctly. Yes, there is a right and a wrong way to travel. Here are three keys to successful traveling;

1. Mental Attitude
Attitude is everything when traveling. So many people forget that the trip really isn’t about the places you see or if you baggage makes it to the airport with you. Traveling is about the journey, the people you are with, and the people you meet. If you set off as Debbie Downer, then you will hate your trip. Even if everything goes great you will still hate the trip.

But, if you have an attitude that says, “No mater what happens or how bad it gets, I am going to have fun.” then you will have fun. In the mist of bad situations, (like being held in the Senegal Airport by security, or having a small boy spill hot coffee on my lap in the plane, or boarding a plane with a crazy African drug lord…maybe a bit of exaggeration on that last one…) I always say, “Man this is going to make a great story!”

Also, have the attitude of a local, not a tourist. Ask the locals where they eat and where they like to go. Adapting to the culture will change the way you travel.

Attitude = everything

2. Physical Space
My biggest pet peeve is when people stop on the moving sidewalk with their crazy large bags! I can’t stand this; especially when two people are standing side by side and you can’t get around them. The moving sidewalk is not so you can be a lazy American, it is so that you can run insanely fast in an airport!

All this to say that packing light is important. The number one complaint that people have about trips is that they lost their baggage. My family and I have found a method that is flawless. If you use this method, you will never lose your bags during flight. The answer? Pack in one bag that is small enough to be a carry on.

Doing this has major advantages; 1) never have to check bags, 2) Don’t have to wait 30 min or an hour to get your bags at the baggage claim, 3) You can go anywhere, ride any train, bus, or plane and never have to carry around a large bag because your stuff can go with you. 4) Check out of hotels earlier and not have to carry your large bag all over Paris.

So how do you know what to take on the trip? If you won’t wear it 3 times or more, don’t bring it.

Small bags = ease, time saved, and flexibility.

3. Be Flexible
No matter what, things never go as planed. Just roll with the punches and have a good time. Being content in all situations can make anything tolerable. Be flexible, be flexible be flexible.

Here is a photo of everything that we packed.

Maria & Etienne

Once a week Bethany and I have double date with our friends Maria and Etienne Couret. We have some of the greatest times with them. Maria is from Colombia and Etienne is from France. Needless to say, our evenings are full of Spanish, French, and amazing food. Because all of us love to cook so much, we spend the whole evening cooking and don’t even eat till about 9:30. But we love it. Every week we pick a different ethic food to try our hand at. We have done French, Italian, Colombian, and Cajun. It has been amazing every time. Nothing has been a dud.

Last night we made French food again. We had Kir, Blioni with Smoked Salmon, Morocccan Couscous, Rack of Lamb Persillade, and Chocolate Crème brûlée. It was out of this world! Man it was good.
But the best part was spending time with some close friends. Sadly Maria and Etienne are moving to Chicago on August 9th. That is why we have been cooking weekly. We want to soak up as much of them as we can before they leave. We will miss you guys.

All the recipes(except the Crème brûlée) came from Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home by Ina Garten.

Here are some photos from last night.

Bread Baking…

On Friday I found myself with a free morning, so I decided to finally attempt what I’d been planning to do for months now….bread baking!! A while back I watched a few youtube videos (something I learned from my amazing husband! He does this with anything new he wants to learn to do…things like tying a bowtie or how to play softball!). I’ve wanted to learn how to make hearty wheat bread from scratch…I was so nervous about it, but thankfully, it turned out to be scrumptious!! We even had it for breakfast on Saturday with jam!

Party Time!

Wednesday was Doug Kline’s last day of active duty as a Navy instructor pilot. So, we joined him for a celebration party! It was so great! I’ve been trying to get in the habit of taking the camera with us wherever we go (practicing for our big trip!), so we showed up with it but unfortunately didn’t pull it out until we were about to leave…we did snap a few pics before walking out the door, though!

Luke and Lizzy Grant are moving this weekend…very sad!! I’m so glad we got a photo with them before they left!  And I really can’t believe that these are some of the only pics we have with Angi and Steven…

One Weekend After Another…

JR and I headed north this past weekend to enjoy all the wedding festivities of some of our HPU comrades! DeSoto (near Dallas) was our destination, but we decided to have a little fun on the way! John Ryan spent one summer living and working in Waco so we hit up some of his old stompin’ grounds!!  We got there just in time to snag a “You’ll have to take this to-go” sandwich just before our favorite little sandwich shop closed!! “Food For Thought” might be one of the only places I’ve eaten at in Waco that’s why I can call it my favorite.  JR, on the other hand, has many favorites!! Since we were forced to take our lunch with us….we headed to another favorite, Common Grounds coffee house….one of the coolest places ever! I snagged a few decorating ideas while we were there!

Josh Williams, JR’s old HPU roommate, asked JR to play guitar for his wedding this past Saturday (the reason for our trek)…It was such a beautiful wedding!! We didn’t get any pics of the wedding day, but JR snapped a few during the rehearsal dinner which was a very laid-back cookout!! So fun!

On our way back to Corpus, we stopped off in Austin to spend a little bonding time with Melissa & Tristan, JR’s sister and brother-in-law! We had a great time with them….we ate sushi, hummus & pita chips, smoothies, and finished up at the famous Magnolia Cafe!  It was a blast, and a very good excuse to go on our next cleanse!!!

Jeep Wranglin’

In our preparation for our trip to France, Bethany and I rented a Renault Twingo so that we can zip around the countryside on the cheap. Being frugal, I decided to get a manual transmission Twingo instead of the much higher price automatic. The only problem is that I haven’t driven a stick shift in over a year. In order to remedy the problem Bethany and I took a friend’s old Jeep Wangler out of a spin around the farm.

The evening was gorgeous and we had a blast. I am apparently better at the whole stick shift thing then I had thought (which earned me serious hunk points with Bethany). Speaking of Bethany, she also did an amazing job for only being behind the wheel of a standard once before! But alas, an evening on the Seaman Farm cannot go without an adventure.

While driving the car that seemed to hate revealing the next gear to shift to, we found that there were suddenly no gears whatsoever. The stick shift was floating as freely as a bird in the sky. It hadn’t a care in the world  as I panicked to try and fix a loyal friend’s car. I was able to twist the stick around until if finally caught again. I drove it back to the main barn were it broke done again in reverse. Some of the amazing farm hands are going to look at reconnecting the sifter the transmission.  As of this morning the car still only went in reverse. Though the situation is looking much better this evening.  Lets hope that this doesn’t happen in France.

A Seaman Storybook